Cost At The Pumps

As the New Year rolled in, Ontario residents may have noticed that their pocketbook took a hit when they took their car to the pumps to fill up. The newly introduced carbon tax has been at the forefront of discussion and debate since last fall in Ottawa and many may not be aware of its direct correlation with the increase in gas prices.

As a Member of Parliament representing a community with strong local business and agricultural roots, I feel a particular sense of frustration with this imposed tax. I have been very vocal about my stance on this issue, particularly the disadvantaging impacts this carbon tax will have on the Canadian economy and our competitiveness in the global markets. Since the Government proposed bringing in a carbon tax, I have heard from many constituents who are concerned about how it will affect their daily lives and household budgets.

In December 2016, the Premiers of each province attended the First Minister’s Conference in Ottawa, to discuss a variety of topics including a national strategy on climate change. At this meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an ultimatum to the Premiers, stating they had two years to establish a provincial carbon tax of their choice; otherwise, the Federal Government would impose one on the Province that did not comply.

On January 1st 2017, the Ontario Government introduced a Cap and Trade Program, which creates emission ‘allowances’ for businesses based on their annual greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses are entitled to trade or purchase additional allowances.  With each passing year, these allowances will be reduced, in part to meet set out targets. However, what the government fails to highlight is that as these allowances are reduced, prices will rise.

On a micro level, the carbon tax has now increased the price of gasoline and further increased hydro and natural gas rates. To add perspective, each time you go to the pumps and fill your vehicle, you are now charged an additional $4.3 cents per litre. According to the 2016 Annual Report from the Auditor General of Ontario, the new carbon tax will now cost families on gas alone, an extra $157 (on average) in 2017, jumping to $210 by 2019 (pg 26). According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the newly imposed carbon tax will cost the average family more than $2500 each year in total.

Imposing a carbon price using a top-down approach is simply not the answer. At a time when our Government should be focused on creating jobs and growing our economy, taxation is only creating a burden for Canadians. There are other ways to reduce emissions, without imposing a tax on Canadians and putting jobs at risk. While I appreciate the importance of working towards reducing our carbon footprint, there are other ways to incentivize individuals and businesses to limit their use, without enforcing a tax that will only serve to disadvantage our economy and burden Canadians on fixed income and with little money to spare.

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